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Boycotts, Lawsuits, Protests Mark AZ Immigration Law Response

Just days after the signing of SB1070 in Arizona, the outrage has not dissipated. A crowd estimated in the hundreds protested the law outside the state Capitol, joined by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. He outlined the road ahead.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon appeared at the rally in support of the protest, calling the law unconstitutional and “just plain wrong.”

“America is a country that is compassionate and that welcomes everyone,” he said. “This is not what this country and this state was founded upon.”

Gordon vowed to take the fight through the state’s judicial system.

“We’ll go to the state courts and we’ll go to the federal courts and we’ll go all the way to the Supreme Court,” he told the cheering crowd. “I promise you.”

On that point, legal experts maintained that the law was bound to be overturned by the courts. Karl Manheim of Loyola Law School called it “facially unconstitutional,” averring that states cannot have their own immigration laws because it’s “an attribute of foreign affairs.” I’m not certain about that, but UC-Irvine’s Erwin Chemerinsky agreed about the unconstitutionality of the law. Certainly there are civil rights charges that can be made against the law in the event of racial profiling or unlawful deportation or whatever incidents arise from the law. Both expected private litigants, rather than the federal government, to sue.

There will definitely be a legal challenge down the line; Rev. Al Sharpton has already announced his intent to sue, along with the Hispanic Federation and the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders.

But before that time, I think we will see boycotts, whether on a coordinated or personal level. Former San Francisco Supervisor Michael Yaki lays out the case.

Boycotts are not lightly entered into or lightly considered. But Arizona has set itself apart from the rest of the nation. It has authored a law that, in effect, creates a system reminiscent of apartheid for persons of Latin American descent. How many American hispanics will want to be walking the streets of Mesa at night? How many will be looking over their shoulder at the possibility of violating the slightest and most unknown of traffic laws? How many will look at their way of dress, feel self-conscious about how they look or speak? How many parents will worry about their children, who are the most obvious and vulnerable targets because until the age of 16 or 17 most lack the identification needed to prevent them from seeing the inside of a police station under the law?

Is that any way for any American to feel? Is that any way for any American to be treated? How would your ancestors, whether they be from Ireland or Israel, Germany or Ghana, Taiwan or Turkey, have felt living in a country where they way they looked, the way they talked singled them out for selective persecution by the police? How many of them came to America to escape exactly that? Imagine walking a mile in those shoes.

Incidentally, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposes the bill, although they said they would follow the law to the best of their ability. In a statement, the AACOP urged Congress to act:

While AACOP recognizes immigration as a significant issue in Arizona, we remain strong in our belief that it is an issue most appropriately addressed at the federal level. AACOP strongly urges the U.S. Congress to immediately initiate the necessary steps to begin the process of comprehensively addressing the immigration issue to provide solutions that are fair, logical, and equitable.

And perhaps Congress will take those steps, as long as Lindsey Graham allows it.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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